2017 Celebration Masquerade was BIG Success

2017 Celebration Masquerade was BIG Success

Wednesday, February 1, 2017
Article by Kelly Lapczynski, staff writer
The Tullahoma News

Tullahoma print shop owner Catherine “Cat” Murray was honored Saturday night with the Tullahoma Area Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year Award during the organization’s annual membership celebration and awards banquet.

Presenting the award, retired executive director Diane Bryant said Murray “touches more organizations in this community than you could ever imagine.”

Noting that Murray was as likely to be introduced by the name of her Ogee Street business (McMurr’s) as she is to be introduced by her own name, Bryant said, “It’s rare that any business in this community hasn’t needed some part of her service or some interpretation of her service.”

2016 Citizen of the Year

The Citizen of the Year award, Bryant explained, is based “60 percent on civic and community involvement and 40 percent on business accomplishments over time.”

Since joining the Tullahoma community in 2000, Murray has served on the chamber board of directors and has been an active chamber CEO (Creating Educational Opportunities) Business Partner at Farrar Elementary School.

In the community, Murray has served on the boards of the Hands-On Science Center, the Coffee County Anti-Drug Coalition and the South Jackson Civic Association.  She serves on the Motlow State Community College early childhood education committee and has previously served a three-year term as an appointee to the Tullahoma Planning Commission.

“She has been voted Business Woman of the Year, Tullahoma City Schools Volunteer of the Month, 2008 chamber Extra Miler of the Year and the 2010 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Citizen of the Year, as well as serving as the 2015 grand marshal of the Tullahoma Christmas Parade,” said Bryant.  “Everything she does involves fun, music and very often it’s being done for children.”


Catherine Murray, second from right, owner of McMurr’s, was named 2016 Tullahoma Area Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year Saturday during the Tullahoma Area Chamber of Commerce Member-ship Celebration. With Murray, from left, are Ken Keller, 2017 chamber president; Bryan McAdams, ambassador vice president; and Bill Yoder, 2016 president. –Staff Photo by Chris Barstad

Murray is also well known for her turn as Michael Jackson in the oft-performed tribute “HIStory Told by Her.”

Accepting the award, Murray said that her father had instilled into his large family of 10 children the importance of several “rules” that, to this day, remain dear to her.  One such directive, she said, was “if you can give, you should.”

“That’s kind of what I do,” she said, thanking the crowd. “I very seldom get caught up with not having anything to say, but this is really amazing and I really appreciate it and I’m going to dedicate it to my dad.”

More than 300 members of the business community gathered Saturday at the Tullahoma Business Center on Wilson Avenue for the annual presentation, this year themed “Masquerade.”

In addition to naming the chamber’s Citizen of the Year, the celebration – underwritten for 12 years by American City Bank and Tennova Healthcare-Harton – allows the chamber to recognize its committee members, officers, ambassadors and directors and to bestow a number of awards on members who have worked to promote the community and its businesses during the past year.

“Purple Reign” honored

As Bryant completed a recap of her last year at the helm of the organization – her final ceremonial duty – several past chamber presidents gathered to honor her 12 years of service.

Most wore purple “to capture the true essence” of Bryant’s tenure, which was marked by her signature use of the color.  As the chamber wished Bryant a final good-bye, they surprised her with a one-time award honoring both her service and the tradition of wearing purple that came with it.

In addition to the “Purple Reign” award, Bryant received a commemorative picture book.

New Chamber Executive Director

Though the chamber installed its new executive director, Hope Sartain, at the beginning of the year, the installation of new board officers is done annually at the celebration.

Outgoing president Bill Yoder on Saturday handed the reins of the executive board to incoming president Ken Keller.

“I am humbled and honored to serve with such a diverse group of working hands,” said Keller, “And I believe that teamwork does make our dream work.”

Supporting Keller on the 2017 board of directors will be President-elect Lenore Blackwell, Vice President Lisa Claudio and Secretary-Treasurer Chelsy Dochety.

Yoder will continue to serve on the chamber board as past president.


Extra Miler Award Recognizes City

Annually, the Extra Miler Award recognizes individuals and businesses who have gone above and beyond to serve and support the community.  This year, in the wake of November’s EF-1 tornado, several Tullahoma agencies were collectively recognized for their combined cleanup and restoration efforts.

Honored for their willingness to “go the extra mile” with tireless work and extraordinary service in the weeks that followed the tornado were the employees of the Tullahoma Utilities Authority and of city departments including the police and fire departments, public works and parks and recreation.

Additional Awards

Recognizing efforts in service to both the community and the chamber, the following awards were also given Saturday:

Chamber ambassador Jackie Lendley of Rodney’s Body Shop received the 2016 President’s Award for, according to Yoder, exemplifying how chamber involvement “can bring great things to your business.”

Tullahoma Funeral Home received the Business of the Year Award in recognition of the contributions and participation of managing partner and chamber “MVP Rising Star” Bryan McAdams.

Ascend Federal Credit Union received the Loretta Welch CEO Business Partner of the Year Award in recognition of the company’s sponsorship of schools throughout the Tullahoma system and of public relations coordinator Greg Davis’ personal commitment to Bel-Aire Elementary School in particular.

Rodney’s Body Shop received the first Member’s Choice Small Business of the Year Award in recognition of owner Rodney Hall and his staff, which “exudes small town charm and hospitality and great knowledge when it comes to their trade.”

Danielle Middleton of U.S. Bank received the chamber Ambassador of the Year Award in recognition of her four years of active service to the program.  Middleton will serve as Ambassador president in 2017.

For more information, visit our Annual Membership Celebration page.